Barring schedule-busters like after-school activities, your child should try to do her homework at the same time every day. "Without a routine, it's too easy to put off," says Jeanne Shay Schumm, PhD, author of How to Help Your Child with Homework. In figuring out the optimal time, consider the family schedule and your child's temperament. Most kids need a chance to decompress after school, and many work more efficiently following physical activity. In fact, research shows that exercise can actually increase a child's concentration.
Once you've nailed the time, create a dedicated study space. Having a consistent spot helps kids switch into study mode. But forget about the conventional wisdom of a desk in your child's room. In early elementary school, it's better to set things up in a central location so you're around to help if needed. Make room on the kitchen or dining room table for him to stretch out with books and papers. And keep supplies at the ready; otherwise, you're inviting procrastination -- the number of minutes spent searching for a pencil can easily turn into hours!